The finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, Thomas Schaefer, has committed suicide over worries on the economic crisis arising from the Covid-19 outbreak, the Strait Times has reported
Mr Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said they believe he died by suicide.
The state premier, Volker Bouffier, said on Sunday that Mr Schaefer committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Mr Bouffier said “We are in shock, we are in disbelief and, above all, we are immensely sad.”
Hesse is home to Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.
Mr Bouffier recalled that Mr Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Today, we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Mr Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“It’s precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added.
Popular and well-respected, Mr Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Mr Bouffier.
Like Mr Bouffier, Mr Schaefer belonged to Ms Merkel’s centre-right CDU party.
He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Germany like other countries across Europe is struggling to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
As of the time of reporting, Germany has recorded 58,247 case of the disease with 552 deaths.
Ms Merkel has also been in quarantine for some days after testing positive for the virus.
The outbreak has had a negative impact on economies across the world and Germany is one of those worst hit.